Is technology actually ruining our attention spans?

ARE PHONES RUINING GEN Z’S ATTENTION SPAN or are older generations crafting myths? (ScreenTime)

Jenna Forss | Arts & Entertainment Editor

February 7, 2024

A popular study published back in 2015 suggested people’s attention span had decreased to about 8 seconds since the dawn of the Digital Age- less than the claimed 9-second attention span of a goldfish. This result sent shock waves through society as people began to frantically freak out about this shocking similarity between the complex human brain and that of a goldfish.

A STUDY PROVEN FALSE: Humans do not have the attention span of a goldfish. (Forbes)

However, subsequent research revealed that this statistic was misinterpreted; it actually measured the amount of time people spent on uninteresting websites, not their overall attention span. 

While the clarification of the study eased some concerns, it also prompted various sources to draw additional conclusions. Some backed the claim that attention spans only decreased with disengaging mediums, while others viewed the rise in multitasking as a positive result of technology.

The various conclusions about the relationship between attention spans and technology make the question itself convoluted. Personally, I have noticed myself and my peers struggle to focus on longer forms of entertainment or in-class lectures without itching to have our phones in hand. Senior Taylor Juncaj commented, “It’s crazy the amount of people I see playing games on their computers or on their phones in class, people are always trying to do two things at once.”

I think this phenomenon can be traced back to Generation Z’s immersion in the digital world from such an early age. Our brains have always been probed with constant stimulation. As a result, we crave our phones or other objects of stimulation when we should be focusing on a single task. In response to this, we have developed the remarkable ability to listen to music, watch television, text friends, catch up on homework, and engage in conversations all at once. Senior Maggie Greene supports my theory, and stated: “I always need something to be playing, whether it be a song or a podcast, I cannot sit in silence.”

Like any technological advancement, there are both benefits and drawbacks to its impact on society. Despite observing shrinking attention spans, Generation Z’s ability to multitask will prove invaluable to tackle future challenges or solve the world’s impending issues. 

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